UK Secretary Steps into the Breach of Fracking Row
The UK Secretary of State, Greg Clark, has sent a letter to Lancashire County Council saying that he will now be stepping in to make a decision about whether a search for shale gas can go ahead.
In a letter written on the secretary's behalf, Lancashire County Council has been instructed that the secretary, not an inspector, will make the decision on two appeals in front of the council. The appeals relate to two of Cuadrilla Resources sites in the area, Roseacre and Little Plumpton. The company was refused planning permission in June by the council to frack and test for shale gas at both sites.
"The secretary of state hereby directs that he shall determine these appeals instead of an inspector," the letter, which was published in full on the Blackpool Gazette and was dated November 26, says. "This means that instead of writing a decision, the inspector will prepare a report and recommendation, which will be forwarded to the secretary of state."
Ordinarily, an inspector would make the final recommendation on an appeal such as the two before Lancashire County Council. However, with this move, Minister Clark will take responsibility instead.
The decision, the letter continued, was taken because it could have an effect on a national scale, not just a local one.
"The reason for this direction is because the drilling appeals involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals which raise important or novel issues of development control, and/or legal difficulties.
"The monitoring appeals are being considered at the same time as the drilling appeals and will be most efficiently and effectively determined by the secretary of state."